When I think long and hard about it, maybe going green is the way to... go?
One billion people around the world travel every year, meaning everyone needs to watch out for the effects this type of global movement can have on the environments we're visiting. Increase in globalization has led to an interconnectedness unlike anything the world has experienced, but often this means a loss of respect for the impacts of unrestricted travel.
The potential negative effects of tourism are both local and global; oceanfront hotels contribute to beach erosion in Hawaii, rising numbers of visitors threaten the fragile ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands, and carbon dioxide emissions from planes are a growing contributor to global warming. - MSNBC
Go Green Travel Green says that traveling green is more cost-effective (good for us since we're on a students' budget). Their "15 reasons to travel green" was however, not very compelling. Reason #2 was "It's good for your children, and your children's children" - not really something high on my priority list, I have to say. Although "You'll lose weight", reason #9, was sadly more compelling.
I hate to say I'd rather go cheap than go green, but let's be honest here - the majority travel with their ecological footprint only in the back of their mind as a small voice reminding them to take a shorter shower. But I think I've resolved myself to attempting to be as environmentally friendly as I can while I'm traveling. While in South Africa, I worked alongside wildlife projects, which gave me a good sense of what I should and shouldn't be doing as a visitor abroad.
Backpacking is going to be a different story. With a wide array of places on our list to visit, we will try to take more environmentally sustainable methods of travel, like train instead of bus or plane, since USA Today reports that a flight from New York to Denver produces as much carbon dioxide per passenger as an SUV produces in a month, a train seems like a healthier solution for the planet.
With some quick Internet searches, it's easy to come up with a list of easily attainable goals for traveling, and I hope to keep the following things in mind.
Goals to travel green
- ask hostel staff not to change towels or sheets every day
- use public transportation in destination cities
- bring your own toiletries
- when hiking, always stay on marked trails
- when snorkeling, avoid touching sea life
- buy local
- carry your own reusable container for drinking
- visit a local park, waterfront, aquarium or museum
- rent a bike, sailboat, canoe or kayak to explore
- travel light